Town to consult with property owners

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

When Slave Lake town council wants a comprehensive report on a land development issue, they know they are going to get what they asked for – especially with Laurie Skrynyk back as director of planning and development. She’s done that job for so long she knows all the history, the ins and outs, the back and forths, legal implications and so on and so forth.

Such was the case on July 5, when Skrynyk delivered a report on Fournier Place, the town’s underdeveloped residential neighbourhood on the west side of town. A post-2011 attempt to provide ‘affordable’ housing opportunities, it has been stalled for several years, with only 13 of 94 lots purchased.

What to do?

Skrynyk laid out the options, all of which represent a departure from the currently approved development concept. One is row houses; another is semi-detached dwellings. The third would be to allow mobile homes.

All cases would require the removal of ‘restrictive covenants’ on the Fournier lands. This is a legal document that ensures that developments within the subdivision “are constructed in accordance with the Fournier Place Design Guidelines.” These call for detached dwellings of a certain size and design.

Providing these, under an exclusive contract for a few years, was Northplex, a modular home manufacturer from Barrhead. That contract expired, wasn’t renewed, and nothing much has been happening over there for quite some time.

Skrynyk advised council all of the options are do-able, but only with the consent of all 13 property owners. Any change of course for the neighbourhood would require consultation and unanimous agreement.

In that case, said councillors, we should talk to the property owners first, before spending much time and effort making plans.

“I think it’s clear we have to do something,” said councillor Brice Ferguson, leading off the discussion. “What gives us the greatest flexibility?”

Skrynyk said she thought increasing ‘R2’ developments (the semi-detached option) would do that.

Councillor Julie Brandle said she thinks it would be a good idea to make lots available for placing mobile homes. The places you can do that in the area (in Slave Lake or outside of it) “are very limited,” she said. “I do think there’s a need, but I think 60 (the number of Fournier lots suggested in the report) would be overkill.”

Brandle – who works in the real estate field – said her preference would be Option #3 (the one that allows mobile homes).

“Create a new land-use district and start from scratch,” she said.

But again, all the existing lot owners would have to consent to it, Skrynyk reminded her.

In that case, said councillor Francesca Ward, how about making consultation the next step?

Ferguson made a motion to that effect, which was carried.

Drone photo courtesy of Jamey Gervais